Everything about gold leaf

The gold leaf is present in many of my paintings, in addition, I have recently incorporated it into my signature to give my work a distinctive touch.

It is a fairly affordable material since it is not made of gold, but rather an imitation made mostly of aluminium. It can be found at any fine art supply store and there are some variations in colors and finishes.

How to apply

The sheets are very thin and delicate, so before you start I recommend making sure that there are no drafts in the room you are in and that your hands are very clean and dry (otherwise you will be the sheets will be stuck to the fingers).

To apply it you need a "glue", which will change depending on the type of surface you are working on:

  • If you work on canvas or fabric, you should use an oil-based varnish, special for the application of this type of metal sheets.
  • On paper, it will be necessary to use a water-based varnish.

Each varnish has its specific instructions for use, but they all usually need a drying time before applying the gold foil, so the steps to follow would be:

  1. Mark the areas where you are going to apply the gold leaf
  2. Apply the varnish with a medium sized brush for precision, and not your favorite brush (varnishes tend to damage brushes)
  3. Let the time specified by the varnish pass (it can be from 10 to 50 min), this can also vary with the ambient temperature and the state of the varnish, but don't worry, you will get to know how the varnish works with the use
  4. Once the varnish is at its point (it is called a mordant, since if you touch it with your finger you will notice it sticky and thicker than before) you can proceed to apply the gold leaf
  5. Take a sheet with very clean hands and very carefully place it on the area where you have applied the varnish
  6. Place the sheet on the varnish and it will adhere by itself, at this point depending on the finish you want to achieve you can do two things: leave the sheet as is and let the varnish dry (there may be small folds or wrinkles), or press the sheet with a soft cloth to achieve a flatter finish
  7. Wait at least 1 hour to make sure that the varnish is completely dry, now you can take a soft brush and pass it along the edges to "clean" the fragments of foil that have been protruding from the area you wanted and voila!< /li>

You can apply it both on the blank canvas/paper, or if you have already painted it. In addition, once it is dry you can also paint with oil or acrylic on it, as I did with the following painting:


Take it easy! It is a very delicate material but you will see that it gives a lot of play and the result is super nice. Here are some tips that I've been learning by trial and error...

  • If you apply it on a canvas or wallpaper, make sure that the paint is completely dry, otherwise it will mix with the varnish and the sheets will fall apart and it will be a disaster, it has happened to me :')
  • Use just the right amount of varnish, if you use too much it will take a long time for it to be ready to lay and can cause lumps or drips
  • Be careful if you want to paint over the gold leaf, because once you apply paint there is no going back, if you make a mistake, even if you try to remove it with solvent, the gold leaf will lose its shiny finish, so be careful
  • Wash the brush with which you apply the varnish with soap well once you finish to try not to damage it. Still, there is always something sticky left so it is better to use an old one

I hope it has been helpful, I would love to know if you dare to work with this material and if the article is useful to you or if you have any further questions, you can leave them in the comments.

Let's paint!


  • Hola, has probado sobre madera? Estoy pintando un retrato sobre un soporte de madera aglomerado y no se si iría bien usar el barniz para poner alguna lámina de oro.. si sabes alguna marca en concreto mil graciass

    Carla B.
  • Esto es super útil Júlia, mil gracias!!!


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published